The LSU Tigers will reportedly take on the Auburn Tigers minus their best player, cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, and two outstanding contributors, running back Spencer Ware and defensive back Tharold Simon. Losing three impact players before a conference game against the defending national champions is bound to change things -- Vegas has taken down the game's line for the time being, as a matter of fact.
But from what we know about LSU, what kind of a difference can we expect this to make? For insight, we turned to LSU blog And The Valley Shook. Here's close Tigers observer Paul Crewe:
I'm not going to try and say the loss of two of our best players is simply meaningless. But I will say that LSU has gotten as far as they have this season because they are a good team.
Sure, guys like Mathieu stand out on the weekly highlights, but this isn't a team that has tied its fate to one player's success, which is exhibited by the fact that they've lost a starting quarterback, starting left guard and starting center at various points and still trounced everyone on the schedule.
Losing a top playmaker on both offense and defense will hurt LSU, though. There may be a bit of fortune that this news breaks right before they play an outmatched opponent at home. If the news becomes more severe (more players and longer suspensions), then it becomes an issue for LSU.
Can they beat Alabama without Tyrann Mathieu and Spencer Ware? Sure. But it sure doesn't help anything. I think the fact that they could go to Dallas on the heels of all the Jordan Jefferson news and trounce one of the finest teams in the country answers whether or not this will become a distraction to this team as well.